Hornets.com postgame: Rockets 100, Hornets 82
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
Rockets (23-22), Hornets (14-29)
It was over when… James Harden drove left and dropped in a layup after one of his deceptively quick moves, giving Houston a 90-78 lead with 2:54 remaining. Harden added a free throw for a three-point play, helping assure the Rockets of a much-needed victory after they’d lost eight of the previous nine games. New Orleans lost its second straight game, heading into a five-game road trip that begins Sunday at Memphis.
Hornets MVP: Eric Gordon helped keep New Orleans within striking distance in the first half, scoring 14 of the team’s 40 opening-half points. Gordon finished with 18 points; for the second game in a row the bulk of his offensive production came in the initial 24 minutes. The team’s leading scorer, who’s a slim margin ahead of Ryan Anderson in points per game, finished 6-for-14 from the field and 6-for-8 on free throws.
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Anderson was one of the few bright spots in the second half for New Orleans, which relied heavily on its bench in the latter portion of the game. Anderson tallied 13 second-half points out of his team-best 19. Al-Farouq Aminu also contributed offense in the latter half, with all of his 11 points.
The buzz on… small forward. Without a doubt, this position has been the most vexing of the five for this season’s Hornets, who did not appear to permanently settle on a starter until Aminu claimed the spot in early January. After regaining his first-string role – which coincided with the return of Gordon to the floor – the athletic 6-foot-9, third-year pro has excelled in hustling, rebounding and defending. In the words of Monty Williams, Aminu has played better lately because he’s “stayed in his box” and focused on the things he does well. While Aminu was moved to the bench, Lance Thomas started nine times at small forward, though he’s more comfortable at power forward (which is the Hornets’ most talented and deepest position). Swingman Darius Miller started one game after a solid preseason, but was assigned to the D-League in late December, where he has remained this month with the Iowa Energy. Xavier Henry also made two starts. Henry’s stints on the floor have been unpredictable; he’s upped his field-goal percentage a bit from last season, but still struggles at the foul line.